Today’s gospel is about the foreman of a vineyard and the laborers. Remember, he payed the men who worked all day the same as the ones who worked only an hour or two. Upon first reading it, human emotions of the need for justice/fairness surface. When we look more closely, however, we see that the parable is really a metaphor for salvation – who gets to go to heaven.
Some people try very hard to live a Christlike life, follow the commandments, care for others and go to church on Sundays. The life of a Christian can be difficult, for sure, but these folks persevere with and for the love of God. Eventually, they are admitted to heaven.
Then there are those who live a self-centered life, filled with greed and “jerkiness.” They don’t feel the need for religion or God. Then when things get rough and life’s fragility is laid bare, they call out to the Lord for forgiveness and help. We are taught that where there is repentance, there is forgiveness. So, we can assume that these folks get to go to heaven (eventually) too.
If this seems unfair, we must examine our motives. Why do we really try to live as God commands? Is it just to earn a spot in heaven, or is it truly out of love for God and neighbor? Are we just as concerned about the souls of our brothers and sisters as we are about our own? Are we willing to make sacrifices for the salvation of others? Do we demand justice over mercy?
Charles Spurgeon was a Baptist preacher in the late 1800’s. I don’t agree with all that he spoke, but I do like his quote on concern for others souls:
“Have you no wish for others to be saved? Then you are not saved yourself. Be sure of that.” He continued, “The saving of souls, if a man has once gained love to perishing sinners and his blessed Master, will be an all-absorbing passion to him. It will so carry him away, that he will almost forget himself in the saving of others. He will be like the brave fireman, who cares not for the scorch or the heat, so that he may rescue the poor creature on whom true humanity has set its heart.”